Chapter 10: Teaching as an Amusing Activity
1. While using “Sesame Street” as an illustration of contemporary views of education, Postman makes the following observation. “‘Sesame Street’ was entirely consonant with the prevailing spirit of America. Its use of cute puppets, celebrities, catchy tunes, and rapid-fire editing was certain to give pleasure to the children and would therefore serve as adequate preparation for their entry into a fun-loving culture” (142). Are educational structures and forms always oriented toward some end-goal? What is the end-goal of contemporary educational structures and forms? What should Christian education strive toward?
2. Postman claims “If the classroom now begins to seem a stale and flat environment for learning, the inventors of television itself are to blame, not the Children’s Television Workshop” (143). Do you agree or disagree?
3. As something of a side note, I must register my agreement (of all things!) with Postman’s quotation from John Dewey: “Collateral learning in the way of formation of enduring attitudes…may be and often is more important than the spelling lesson or lesson in geography or history….For these attitudes are fundamentally what count in the future” (144). How should this influence Christian parents who consider sending their children to public schools? to Christian schools? to homeschool?
4. Now back to a fundamental point of engagement with this chapter…Postman says that “reading books and watching television differ entirely in what they imply about learning,” and that this “is the primary educational issue in America today” (144-5). What is the primary educational issue in America today from a Christian perspective?
5. When criticizing education as entertainment, what precisely are we criticizing?
6. What does Postman posit as the three commandments of television’s philosophy of education (147-8)?